Saturday, November 10, 2012

A Forgotten Civil War by Margot Justes

The non-fiction look at South Africa in the early 80's is painstakingly slow, but I'm working on it. The working title Memories of a Country Long Ago brought back another memory, this one belongs to my father and also takes place in Africa.
There are very few memories for me of the time he spent in Biafra in the late sixties and early seventies. He was a very private man and never shared much of his life with others, and that included his daughter.

His decision to sell his practice and head to Nigeria and the Biafra conflict was made on the spur of the moment, one day I was getting ready to head to Paris to study-and I use the term loosely-the next day my father announced he was going to Lagos for an extended stay. There were no conversations, no further plans, just an edict that he was going.
Doctors were needed, there weren't many available and the conflict was brutal.  This was a time when we didn't  really hear much about what was going on in other parts of the world. We didn't live in a global society as we do today, but it was indeed brutal.

I've recently started doing some research about that conflict, civil war, whatever you want to call it. In about two and half years, a million or so people died as a result. The Republic of Biafra seceded from Nigeria because of cultural, economic and religious differences.  In many cases much has not changed, sad to say we still fight over the same things.
This was about the time that Doctors Without Borders came into being, but I don't even know if he went through that organization or another one. All I know is that he went there to help set up a hospital, I want to learn more about his time there.  

He was a remarkable man, and it would nice to share some of his life with my daughters, but I'm starting from scratch and so far have not made much progress.
If anyone can point me in the right direction, it would be greatly appreciated.

Margot Justes
A Hotel in Paris
Hearts & Daggers
Hot Crimes, Cool Chicks
and coming soon A Hotel in Bath


Debra St. John said...


Good luck with your project. What a great way to pass on your father's legacy. I wish I had a direction to point you in, but all I can do is wish you the best on this. I hope you're able to find what you're looking for.

Morgan Mandel said...

Amazing to hear what goes on in people's families from one generation to the next. Hope you can find out more about your Dad.

Morgan Mandel

Deb Larson said...

Is there anyone in your family still living that he might have written to or confided a bit to them? This sounds like a "must make it happen" type of book. Best of luck with your research!
DL Larson

VG said...

Awesome blog. I enjoyed reading your articles. This is truly a great read for me. I have bookmarked it and I am looking forward to reading new articles.Keep up the good work!

Margot Justes said...

Deb & Morgan,
Thank you, hope to make some headway.
No one can fill in, family was split and not at all close.
Glad you enjoyed the blog, and thank you.